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US Denial of California Emissions Waiver Criticized

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  • Tim Jones
    Is the corporate media, too, in on efforts to stall action on global warming? Tim US Denial of California Emissions Waiver Criticized
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 12, 2008
      Is the corporate media, too, in on efforts to stall action on global warming?

      US Denial of California Emissions Waiver Criticized
      By Margot Roosevelt
      The Los Angeles Times
      Friday 11 January 2008

      Senator Boxer, chairman of a Senate environment panel, says she might
      subpoena documents concerning possible White House interference.

      Congressional critics launched an offensive against the Bush
      administration Thursday for denying California and other states the
      right to adopt strict curbs on greenhouse gas emissions from cars and

      Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate
      Environment and Public Works Committee, said she would consider
      issuing a subpoena for documents that might show White House
      interference in the Dec. 19 decision to deny California a waiver to
      enact its own rules under the Clean Air Act.

      "This outrageous decision . . . is completely contrary to the law
      and science," Boxer said in a briefing with state officials at Los
      Angeles City Hall. She held up an empty cardboard box as a symbol of
      the Environmental Protection Agency's refusal so far to provide the
      hefty technical and legal backup that normally accompanies air
      pollution waiver decisions and are usually published in the Federal

      The EPA's decision was in part based on the assertion that global
      warming, caused by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, is a
      worldwide problem rather than a California issue, and therefore
      requires a national, rather than a state-led, solution. EPA
      administrator Stephen L. Johnson said an energy bill signed by
      President Bush last month would adequately control greenhouse gas
      emissions by requiring a 35-mph fleet-wide fuel economy average by

      But the air board has calculated that more greenhouse gas would
      be emitted under the federal plan than under California's blueprint.

      California already has the nation's most severe smog and soot.
      And scientists have found that by warming the air and increasing
      humidity, carbon dioxide emissions increase concentrations of ozone
      and fine particulates, which are linked to heart attacks, asthma and
      other diseases. A Stanford University study released last week
      calculated that California would have several hundred additional
      deaths each year due to the effects of global warming.

      Using a computer model to simulate global pollution changes and
      factoring in the health effects confirmed by previous studies, Mark
      Jacobson, a Stanford professor of civil and environmental
      engineering, concluded that about 21,600 people worldwide could die
      each year for each degree Celsius of temperature increase.

      "With six of the 10 most polluted cities in the nation being in
      California," Jacobson said, "that alone creates a special
      circumstance for the state."

      California's landmark 2002 law requires new automakers to reduce
      greenhouse gas emissions from vehicle tailpipes by 30% by 2016. Under
      the Clean Air Act, the state is allowed to issue its own rules,
      because it had a pollution program before the act was passed.

      States may choose to follow the federal model or California's
      rules, but only if the EPA issues a waiver to California. The agency
      has done so in more than 50 other cases over three decades

      California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, who sued the EPA last week in
      an effort to overturn the decision, said the agency was delaying the
      issuing of legal and technical documents to stall court action.

      "Subpoena these guys," he urged Boxer. "Send the marshals out.
      Get them to tell us under oath. They are not going to get away with
      this. Sooner or later, we are going to uncover real corruption . . .
      that is dangerous to California and to the whole world."

      Brown said that the Bush administration may be able to delay
      court action a year, until the president's term is over, but that
      Congress may be able to speed the process. "What you have is a bunch
      of scofflaws in the White House," he said. "This fellow Johnson is
      becoming a stooge in a really pathetic drama that hopefully will not
      play out much longer."

      Johnson is scheduled to testify before the Senate committee in
      Washington on Jan. 24. An EPA spokesman said, "The official decision
      documents are being prepared, and they will be released soon."

      Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the state Air Resources Board, said
      that if the court did not act quickly, the board would outline other
      options for requiring greenhouse gas cutbacks from automobiles,
      including fees and incentives. She said the California standards,
      which are scheduled to begin to take effect in 2009, could be met by
      auto companies with existing technology. So far, she said, 12 states
      have chosen to adopt California's standards, pending a waiver
      approval. Others are in the process of doing so. If all 50 states
      adopted California's law, it would reduce the amount of carbon
      dioxide emissions by 1.4 gigatons, about twice what the federal
      standards would achieve by then, Nichols said.

      The outcome of the tailpipe issue may be determined by the next
      administration, said Brown, who added that he had written the
      presidential candidates to ask their positions on the waiver. All the
      Democrats support California's position, but only one Republican,
      Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), answered Brown's letter in the affirmative.

      Testifying Thursday, Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra
      Club, urged Californians to focus on the Feb. 5 primary and demand
      that all candidates endorse the waiver. Although polls show that
      Americans overwhelmingly support strong measures to curb global
      warming, and 150 New Hampshire town halls approved resolutions urging
      candidates to address global warming, the issue has been largely
      dormant in the presidential campaign, Pope said.

      He blamed the news media, citing a study issued last week by the
      nonprofit League of Conservation Voters, which reviewed 140
      interviews and debates of the presidential candidates. Of 2,484
      questions asked by the top five political reporters on television,
      the study found, only three mentioned global warming.
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